Pictured: Anthony Luca of BLRC (Judy Teasdale Photo)
BURNABY, BC - BURNABY, BC - For the first time in over a decade, Burnaby Lake Rugby Club will host a Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League playoff match when the semifinals kick off this Saturday at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex. Top-seeded Burnaby Lake (10-4) are at home to no.4 seed Castaway Wanderers (7-6-1) as the hosts look to secure a postseason victory that has slipped through their grasp in recent years. On Vancouver Island, a rematch of last year's Rounsefell Cup Final will see no.2 James Bay Athletic Association (10-4) play host to no.3 Capilano RFC (10-4) at MacDonald Park.
Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League - Sat. May 4th
SEMIFINALS: Castaway Wanderers at Burnaby Lake (Burnaby Lake Sports Complex) 2:45pm
SEMIFINALS: Capilano RFC at James Bay AA (MacDonald Park) 3:00pm
On paper, top-seeded Burnaby Lake are favourites heading into Saturday's Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League semifinal clash with perennial contenders and no.4 seed Castaway Wanderers. Burnaby have won seven of eight games since the winter break; they top the league in both offensive production (35.64 ppg) and boast the toughest defence (15 ppg against); and have convincingly shredded the defences of James Bay, Capilano and no.5 Meraloma en route to the regular season league title.
But the surprise team of the season has yet to prove themselves in key playoff matches. In 2011 when the club began to look like title contenders, they collapsed at Jericho Park in the quarterfinals against the UBC Old Boy Ravens in a 35-18 decision. The following November in regional competition, Burnaby fell 20-11 to Capilano in the Lower Mainland Miller Cup having previously beaten the eventual champs earlier in the league season. 2012 looked promising but they fell agonizingly close in a 23-21 decision at James Bay. But this year is different, according to head coach Kris de Scossa because they have the pivotal home semifinal matchup their program has been longing for.
"Heading into Saturday we are up against a team with lots of talent who are extremely well coached and we are still the proverbial underdogs," said de Scossa. "But having home field advantage is huge as we have a very good support group. We've played some excellent rugby at home and not having to make the journey on the ferry definitely plays into things."
Burnaby have plenty of veteran leadership as several members of their forward pack competed in the 2012 Canadian Rugby Championship and were key members of the McKechnie Cup winning Fraser Valley side this past February. Their front row features Anthony Luca, Benoit Piffero and Micha Govorchin. They also boast the league's top scorer in James Reekie who topped out at 139 points this season through pin-point accurate goal kicking. Their scoring threats include outside centre Joe Dolesau (2011 CRC Player of the Year) who ranked second in league try scoring as well as no.8 and Canada U20 national team grad Admir Cejvanovic who ranked third in try scoring.
The Castaway Wanderers ended Burnaby's eight-game win streak in April, handing them a 23-16 loss at Windsor Park in a match that featured torrential downpour and sleet. But this weekend's weather will again be a major factor as Burnaby will look to capitalize on the dry conditions and release their lethal back line.
CW will look to stymie the league's top offence and will feature a number of veterans in Ray Barkwill, Clayton Daum, Gord Kehoe, Ken Goodland and Buckleys Matt and Paul. Young charges in the CW lineup also include scrum half Kyle Armstrong and MIke Fuailefau, both graduates of Canada's Under-20 program.
"Playoff rugby in the knockout stage is always exciting for both the supporters and everyone involved at the club. The players have worked really hard over the last three years to get to this position," added De Scossa. "We've been knocking at the door for a while now."
Kickoff at Burnaby Lake is set for 2:45pm and will follow the Division One final between Capilano and Burnaby Lake at 11:30am.
MAY 4th SEMIFINALS: Castaway Wanderers at Burnaby Lake (Burnaby Lake Sports Complex) 2:45pm
1-Anthony Luca; 2-Benoit Piffero; 3-Micha Govorchin; 4-Ryan McHollister; 5-Mike Gough; 6-Doug Breadon; 7-Scott Plummer; 8-Admir Cejvanovic; 9-Rain de Guzman; 10-James Reekie; 11-Javier Valle; 12-Cole Mcqueen; 13-Joe Dolesau; 14-Matt Alexander; 15-Evan Thomas
1-Clayton Thornber; 2-Ray Barkwill; 3-Doug Hepp; 4-Clayton Daum; 5-Gord Kehoe; 6-Kenny Goodland; 7-Riley Ilnicki; 8-Dylan Jones; 9-Kyle Armstrong; 10-Matt Buckley; 11-Mozac Samson; 12-Mike Fuailefau; 13-Llyr Morris; 14-Jonny Morris; 15-Paul Buckley
MAY 4th SEMIFINALS: Capilano RFC at James Bay AA (MacDonald Park) 3:00pm
1-Dan Fiss; 2-Evan Mallory; 3-Jesse Ryan; 4-Robbie McCall; 5-Mike McDonald; 6-Gareth Dyer; 7-James Findlay; 8-Glen McKinnon; 9-Chris Robinson; 10-Charlie Jones; 11-Brady Carpenter; 12-Taylor Dalziel; 13-Nate Rees; 14-Adam Zaruba; 15-Matt Simms
Reserves: 16-Shawn Wilson; 17-Stephen Jones; 18-Matt Yanagiya; 19-Craig Rice; 20-Rob Bowman; 21-Arash Solaimani; 22-TBC
1-Peter Gillespie; 2-Francis Yoon; 3-Russ Ward; 4-Nolan Miles; 5-Jim de Goede; 6-Andrew de Goede; 7-Neil Meechan; 8-Pat Fraser; 9-Spencer Dalziel; 10-Jeff Williams; 11-Mitch Bancroft; 12-Morgan Williams; 13-Dave Moonlight; 14-Jordan Wilson-Ross; 15-Brandon Harrison
Reserves: Tom McArthur; Sterling Vidalin; Nate Waldmann; Monty Tichkowski; Dan Kilpatrick; Rain Slavica; Jim Blomberg